Meeting Information

The Analysis of Past (Pliocene) Global Climate as an Aid in Understanding Future Climate Change

March 20, 2013
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Speaker: Harry Dowsett, U. S. Geological Survey & George Mason University

Speaker's Presentation:
The Analysis of Past (Pliocene) Global Climate (slides 1-15) format_pdf
The Analysis of Past (Pliocene) Global Climate (slides 16-30) format_pdf
The Analysis of Past (Pliocene) Global Climate (slides 31-46) format_pdf
The Analysis of Past (Pliocene) Global Climate (slides 47-62) format_pdf
Harry Dowsett - March 20, 2013

Topic: The Analysis of Past (Pliocene) Global Climate as an Aid in Understanding Future Climate Change

Time and Location: 1:00 PM, with Q&A to follow; in a 1st floor conference room at the American Center for Physics, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD-- off River Rd., between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: The Pliocene world provides an unequalled paleo-laboratory to test the sensitivity of the physical models we rely upon to estimate future warming impacts. It challenges our understanding of the sensitivity of key components of the climate system and how we simulate that system. The USGS Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) Project is a collaborative data analysis and climate simulation effort that strives to 1) accurately and comprehensively reconstruct and understand Pliocene climate and climate dynamics in order to gain insight into a warmer than present world that may resemble a future climate; and 2) construct Pliocene paleoenvironmental / paleoclimatic boundary conditions as an aid to general circulation model experiments designed to explore the impacts of climate forcings and feedbacks.

In recent years, PRI SM has developed new surface and deep ocean temperature, topographic, land cover and ice volume reconstructions based upon new climate proxy data and refinements in methodologies. These reconstructions are analyzed within the framework of an internally consistent digital data set that is being used by 8 international climate modeling groups in the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP) arm of the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Project (PMIP). Joint USGS-PlioMIP experimental results are being utilized to assess the performance of models in the North Atlantic, tropics and upwelling cells, to define the role of changes in bathymetric gateways in past global warming, to reconstruct changes to deep ocean circulation, and to improve understanding of the sensitivity of the Earth climate system to changes in radiative trace gasses. PRISM's current work focuses on improved data collection in geographic regions where data – model discord is greatest and refining our products to better serve the climate modeling community.

Biography: Harry Dowsett earned a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Brown University in 1988, studying under John Imbrie. He is currently the Project Chief of the Pliocene Research, Interpretation & Synoptic Mapping group (PRISM) at the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia. His primary research focus includes all aspects of Pliocene paleoclimate, but he specializes in the application of planktic foraminifera to climate change research. PRISM's research is a vital part of the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP), providing the only existing Pliocene climate dataset to participating model groups.

Harry also serves as Editor of the journal Micropaleontology and is an adjunct professor of Geology at George Mason University. From 2002 to 2003, Dr. Dowsett was Associate Director of the Paleoclimatology Program at the National Science Foundation. His start at the USGS came after being awarded a National Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 1987. In 2012 Harry was awarded the Palaeontological Associations's President's Medal in recognition of his "outstanding contributions to micropalaeontology and palaeoclimatology."